Missouri Perjury Laws

A perjury charge may be brought against you if you lie while under oath in a court proceeding or during a deposition. Perjury is categorized as a crime against justice because the perpetrator undermines the authority of the legal system by blatantly disrespecting the truth. Due to the damage that perjury can cause, the crime is taken very seriously and is punished accordingly, including perjury committed in the state of Missouri.

Missouri Perjury Laws Overview

Reading laws in their original statutory versions takes a lot of time and effort. You can consult with an attorney to better understand what the law conveys, but a condensed version of the statutes using simple language is also helpful. See the chart below for an easy-to-follow overview of Missouri's perjury laws.

Statutes

Missouri Revised Statutes:

  • Section 575.040 (perjury)
  • Section 570.408 (perjury for the purpose of obtaining public assistance)

Elements of Perjury Charges

 

 

Perjury: With the intent to deceive, an individual knowingly give false testimony about any material fact while under oath in any official proceeding.

A fact is "material" if it could substantially affect, or did substantially affect, the course or outcome of the cause, matter, or proceeding. Note: Knowledge of the materiality of the statement is not an element of the offense.

Perjury constitutes a:

  • Class E Felony if it's committed in any proceeding not involving a felony charge;
  • Class D Felony if it's committed in any proceeding involving a felony charge;
  • Class B Felony if it's committed during a criminal trial for the purpose of securing the conviction of accused for felonies except for murder;
  • Class A felony if it's committed during a criminal trial for the purpose of securing conviction of accused for murder.

Perjury for Purposes of Obtaining Public Assistance: An individual knowingly makes a misleading or false statement or misrepresents a material fact (for purposes of obtaining public assistance) if the false or misleading statement is reduced to writing and verified by the signature of the person making the statement and by the signature of any employee of the Missouri department of social services.

A statement or fact is "material" if it could substantially affect or did substantially affect the granting of public assistance. Note: Knowledge of the materiality of the statement or fact is not an element of the offense.

Perjury for Purposes of Obtaining Public Assistance constitutes a:

  • Class M Misdemeanor if the value of the public assistance obtained or sought is under $750;
  • Class E Felony if the value of the public assistance obtained or sought is $750 or more;
  • Class D Felony if the person has previously been found guilty of two perjury violations under the section.

Possible Defenses

  • Mistake of fact
  • The statement was not false.
  • The statement wasn't about a material issue.
  • Defendant retracts the false statement in the court of the official proceeding where it was made, but they must do it before the falsity of the statement is exposed.
  • It's no defense that the defendant mistakenly believed the fact to be immaterial; or the actor wasn't competent, for reasons other than mental disability or immaturity, to make the statement.

Related Offenses

Missouri Revised Statutes:

  • Section 575.050 (making a false affidavit)
  • Section 575.060 (making a false declaration)
  • Section 575.080 (making a false report)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Missouri Perjury Laws: Related Resources

Connect with a Missouri Attorney to Discuss Perjury Charges

If you're facing charges under Missouri's perjury laws, then you may have to spend time behind bars if you're convicted. Whenever incarceration is a possibility, you should discuss your case with a trained legal professional to ensure that all of your rights are protected. Connect with a Missouri criminal attorney right away to get insightful information on how to defend yourself.

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